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Fabian Mächler, co-founder grape, Swisspreneur Podcast

EP #312 - Fabian Mächler: A Grape a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Fabian Mächler

April 3, 2023

5:01 - How do Swiss companies currently look after their employees?

08:35 - Why was insurance the business model of choice?

14:03 - The 3 phases of employee healthcare

21:23 - Choosing whether or not to partner

29:36 - Reactive vs. preventative care

About Fabian Mächler

After getting his degree in Computer Science from ETH Zurich and having a background in highly competitive sports, as his mother and grandfather were competitive endurance athletes, Fabian Mächler figured out early on that sport as a career was not for him. However, he found that startups gave him the same need to perform. Fabian has participated in various startup initiatives, like startup days, Startup INVEST, and Sigma Squared Society, and previously worked as a software and electrical engineer. Now, he’s the co-founder of grape, a digital employee insurance that improves team health by integrating software, health, and insurance to work synchronously.

Founded in Zurich in 2021, grape has grown from strength to strength, having raised 1.7 million Swiss Francs in the first-seed stage and recently made 7 digits in premium volume. Employee health care is a requirement in Swiss companies, which means an open landscape of ideas for this necessary service. They provide their services to companies as small as 50 employees and up to 4000, and it is the integration of automation software, combined with health and insurance, that has allowed them to have this kind of reach. It is also vital to grape that their product alleviates the pressure for both employees and managers to take on administrative responsibility. The grape insurance model can step in and handle a large amount of it, and a completed report gets to a manager and allows them to give more support to their colleagues.

Significantly, when trying to start grape, Fabian and his team’s research process went through many validation stages. grape as we know it today is the result of 6 or 7 tries, and the iteration process allowed them to realize that they did not necessarily need to create an insurance platform from scratch, but would do better to focus on being the agent who brings the 3 phases of healthcare together. Through their research and user testing, they discovered how short-term absenteeism (1 - 30 days absence period) is the most common symptom of workplace dissatisfaction regarding health and wellness. Another vital aspect that they were focused on was making sure their product was available to everyone, and not just people who are already in good health. This keeps them active in the preventative care space while acknowledging the importance of reactive care, which often receives the most attention in any case, but also usually has the most impact.

Fabian has slowly begun to find some work-life balance, prioritizing sleep and continuing to focus on sports, spending time with family and friends, and occasionally fasting. The grape team wants to reach some big revenue milestones in 2023, which they cannot disclose too much about just yet. We’ll just have to wait!

Memorable quotes:

"Startups are the Olympics of the professional world."

"We have chosen to offer insurance that has the best options for employees, not the lowest price."

This episode was co-produced by Startup Days 2023. Click here to purchase your ticket now.

To listen to the other episode in our startup days 2023 bonus series, check out our conversations with Christoph Bertschi, Arman Anatürk, Fajer Mushtaq, and Philippe Teissonniere.

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